Ignominious defeat
Vintage Game Club - what game next?

Media old and new

Oldtv I enjoy helping acquaint my colleagues with the assortment of technologies we call New Media. I've never been crazy about that term (how much longer can it be considered "new"?), but at this point I guess we're stuck with it. Whatever label we use, the emergence of digital networked communication has forever changed how we create and share information. The challenge for me and my colleagues is to figure out what these technologies have to offer us as teaching and learning tools.

The problem is, colleges and universities are generally resistant to change. For many faculty and staff, this stuff we call "old media" still feels awfully new. Books and newspapers are fine, but you can find plenty of of schools that have yet to fully embrace video and film, let alone that fat pipe that streams porn and knowledge in equally indiscriminate bucketfuls.

So if we believe these new technologies can help enable us and liberate us and bring us together, we must make a case for how that works. It can be helpful to contrast how new and old media typically function, and I just happen to have a personal story that does just that.

I was contacted recently by two people who came across my blog and wanted to interview me. I was surprised and flattered and said yes to both. One was Mike Walbridge, who was writing a story for GameSetWatch; the other was a gentleman from a popular am/fm radio station in the western U.S.. Interview times were arranged; both conversations were pleasant and positive; and I finished each fairly confident that I hadn't humiliated myself - at least any more than usual.

Mike's piece appeared on GameSetWatch and I was pleased to see it. The essay included material from interviews with Kieron Gillen, Leigh Alexander, N'Gai Croal, and several other heavy-hitters, and I felt gratified to even have been included in their company. But as Mike pointed out in his preface:

[AUTHOR'S NOTE: all these writers said very interesting things that are beyond the scope of this article but which I think should still be printed. Also, the way my own opinions and perceptions came about were highly influenced by the order in which I interviewed them, as well as the flow of the discussion. More details and more of their opinions will be posted on my own humble blog in the coming weeks.]

True to his word, Mike has followed up with separate comprehensive and well-written features highlighting each of us. These are useful extensions of his original piece, filling in many blanks and fleshing out many ideas. GameSetWatch returned to pick these up as well, and they also appear on Mike's personal blog, as promised.

This is what new media journalism looks like. A journalist does his homework, writes his story, and fulfills his assignment. The story is posted online and picked up by several other online sites. But it doesn't end there. The journalist returns to his unused material and posts that information on his own. These stories are redistributed again by various sites, and throughout this process readers can post comments or questions, and the journalist can respond with more information, context, or perhaps even more reporting. And, of course, all these posted stories are sprinkled with links to related or other useful sites for even more information.


The radio interview produced a 14-second sound bite of me declaring today's gamers dumber than yesterday's. It appeared wedged into a 1-minute 20-second barrage of other "tech" stories. It yielded no useful information, no additional resources, and it managed to completely mischaracterize my ideas and my writing - all underscored by a busy barrage of music and sound effects under the reporter's voice.

This is what old media looks like. To be sure, it doesn't have to be this way at all, but more often than not, it's exactly like this. The show supercedes the content, and any light that's shed is typically a self-reflexive light on the medium itself. The show is the show. The guy I spoke to was doing commercial broadcast radio. That's the schtick. And that's why it's dying.

I could be accused of choosing extreme versions of the best and worst of new and old media. But I think my own little encounters with both are indicative of fundamental differences that help explain why so many of us are surfing the web when we're supposed to be consuming old media.

And now back to the games. :-)